Edward Henry Rennie
Edward Henry Rennie was born on 19 August 1852 at Balmain, Sydney, eldest son of Edward Alexander Rennie, clerk and later auditor-general, and his English wife Harriet, née Cummins, and grandson of James Rennie, professor of natural history at King's College, University of London, who later lived in Sydney and Adelaide. Edward attended Fort Street Model School, Sydney Grammar School and the University of Sydney (B.A., 1870; M.A., 1876). He taught at Sydney and Brisbane Grammar schools from 1871 to 1877, when he went to study at the University of London (B.Sc., 1879; D.Sc., 1882).
He took up his appointment to the new Angas chair of chemistry at the University of Adelaide early in 1885. On 23 December 1884 at St John's, Raymond Terrace, he married Agnes Alison Cadell; they had two daughters and two sons.
Rennie was the university's first dean of science in 1887 and a council-member in 1889-98 and 1909-27. On committees, in teaching and research, and twice as acting vice-chancellor, he showed tact, dedication and sound judgement. As a teacher he was noted for precise explanation and the use of practical demonstrations. He also lectured on metallurgy to external classes and at the South Australian School of Mines and Industries; he had little time for writing and limited facilities for research.
Rennie had worked in London on chemical dynamics. In 1898 he went overseas and in England, with William Henry Bragg, he discussed the new physics with a leader in the field Sir William Crookes, whose work Rennie had studied. In Adelaide he investigated the chemistry of Australian plants and in World War I he was on two Commonwealth committees studying plant products of potential industrial use (resin of Xanthorrhoea sp., fibres of Posidonia sp.).
Rennie was initially also South Australia's government analyst and inspector of explosives. He helped to form the School of Mines and Industries, on whose council he represented the university; he was acting president in 1924.
Still working, he died suddenly on 8 January 1927, and was cremated. His name is memorialized in the university, in the R.A.C.I. and at Scots Church, Adelaide.Biographical SourceAdapted from The Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (MUP), 1988.
Professor Edward Henry Rennie - The University - Request authority to expend £20 on apparatus and chemicals for Chemical Laboratory
Professor Edward Henry Rennie - The University - Requesting apprentices may enter for Higher Public Examination without payment of fees
Under Secretary - Chief Secretary's Office - Adelaide - Request for Professor Rennie's report on Gawler Water Supply
Professor Edward Henry Rennie - University - Permission to expend £8 for 300 copies of Tables for Analytical Chemistry
Professor Edward Henry Rennie - University - Tendering resignation as member of Council and expressing thanks for courtesy received
Thomas Playford - The Agent General - London - Visit of Dr Edward Henry Rennie to Metallurgical Works of Germany
Professor Edward Henry Rennie - Request for purchase of Metallurgical and Chemical specimens and honorarium for Percy Jones
Professor Edward Henry Rennie - Suggesting appointment of Alfred James Higgin as Examiner Junior and Senior Chemistry Papers
Professor Edward Henry Rennie - With reference to the sum £250 allowed by Council towards Dr Rennies expenses
Professor Edward Henry Rennie - Asking that Assistants may be sent to School of Mines to complete Curriculum